Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gaw Kadal, Srinagar

(Elegy for a Bridge: Osia)

You are eleven cement pillars
and thirty nine rusted banisters.
You are a small kid who dropped
his freshly painted kangri
and ran away once the first of the one thousand
fifty six bullets were fired.
And didn’t look back to see what happened.
Otherwise he would have celebrated
his twenty first death anniversary this winter.
You are a young man who stood
like a cross inside a pheran,
five feet nine, 16 years old, hands stretched
horizontally as a matter of reflex,
to shield ten thousand nine hundred
live targets from the barrel
of a light machine gun.
Eleven meters away from the finger
on the trigger, he stood like the Chinar,
straight, uncomplicated, on his own.
He took the holes on his legs, abdomen, chest, neck and face.
Sunlight passed through his ears
as he dropped dead on the road.
You are a face lying close to a broken kangri
and flinching from the burning coal and getting a bullet from point blank range.
You are an afternoon, a memory
that hangs together,
a half-eaten pear, a winter,
a chopped off arm
and a healthy stray dog
chomping off that arm.
Nobody can eat winter like a pear.
Nobody can live inside a pear like winter.
You are a dying voice drowned by a shout
“Don’t waste your bullet. I’ve pumped enough rounds into his body. He’ll die on his own”.
You are seven shocked policemen
who came to collect fifty eight dead bodies.
Angry but helpless, helpful but unlucky, they loaded the truck and drove
to the police control room.
You are a name not known to anyone.
You say a name not known to anyone.
Maybe because the newsreaders live on the banks
of a river that doesn’t sound like the Jhelum.
Maybe because the history professor teaching
his class the nuances of state building
has kept on wearing his old glasses.
Maybe because the law of the land
orders the well-fed government employees
to destroy the old records once in every twenty years
in presence of their immediate senior.
I knocked at your door.
Please let me come in, I said.
Let me see you from inside.
A foot print here.
A stride there.
Three stumps and a cricket match.
A sentry post and a face behind a mask.
A torn school bag and a broken ink bottle.
I am not a house, you told me,
I am a bridge, I have no door.
People walk on me. They don’t stay here.
You are a bridge for cows to cross
the river before it gets dark.
You are a worried mother who tells her son
studying in the university hostel library:
‘Come back home early or don’t come today’.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy Birthday

You were in my heart when I first took wing
silently floating on my mind
like a butterfly in the sky
Fiesta of sunrays at daybreak
upon distant misty mountains
still reminds me of you
When we sauntered across
around our comforts
criss-crossing the peripheries
of pure joy and kinship
Thy laughter and floundering
gathers in my soul
like a robed wizard’s charm
Old times whereupon
I held your finger
to turn new leaves
My soleprints on the shore
look lonely this evening

© Sameer

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Harvest and hankering

Can we not light up a fire
and see each other’s gaze?
Can we not make noise
like those good old days?
Can we not break into a song
when first snows alight?
Can we not be awe-less
and fear not the night?
Can we shut out the guff
rulers let fly at us?
Can we summon to mind
poems of harvest and hankering?
Can we paint wistful meadows
in bold colors of concord?
Can we sit and laugh
in the midst of this curse?

© Sameer

Friday, July 30, 2010

Scarlet puddles

Woodlets are cold once again
Nights are drawn-out again
Death rattle is here again
Burying grounds are busy again
Scarlet puddles have formed again
Bowmen appear on trees again
Wildly shooting at dreams again
Each bird is a foe again
Birdcalls are grievous again
Darkness at dawn again
Nighttime at noon again
Clouds bursting once again
Old men crying yet again
Savage wilderness once again
Hop-skipping puddles time and again

© Sameer

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One more

One more smokestack is smokeless tonight
one more child put six feet under
One more mother is wringing her hands
one more son is inhumed tonight
One more joy is trampled upon
one more lad is overhung tonight
One more bullet to the heart
one more woeful home tonight
One more sombre evening
one more starless sky tonight

© Sameer

Thursday, June 10, 2010

To my old bed

I smell wild wood trees
possessed by buccaneers and bulbuls
criss-crossing each other
along heaving paths
I see bee-eaters, their iridescent wings
like violin bows upon the track
fringed with tall pines
like sharp arcs into blue Eden
I hear sounds being chargrilled
in the timberland, so green
surrounded with dug-outs
as deep as war sorrows
I walk into my vale
self-same over the years
cacophonous and comforting
if only to fell happily
into my old bed

© Sameer

Monday, May 31, 2010


Mother they promised me
honey from the bee hive
and I ran to savor some
mindless of the night

They gave me not a single drop,
instead put
honey-color death beans
in my mouth

I kept asking for some
food and they kept
spraying me with arrows
till I gave up

The longbow man roared
and turned to his men
wiping away blood, he said
my violence conquers yours

Mother I think they killed me
But I know not why
The thinnest crescent
of a moon saw me bleed

© Sameer